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Major land disputes around the world

Land disputes

LIBYA | NIGER | ALGERIA | TUNISIA

LIBYA claims about 19,400 sq km in northern NIGER and part of south-eastern ALGERIA, and also has a maritime boundary dispute with TUNISIA.

BAHRAIN | QATAR | KUWAIT | SAUDI ARABIA | IRAN | UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | IRAQ

BAHRAIN and QATAR: Territorial dispute over the Hawar Islands and maritime boundary between BAHRAIN and QATAR. KUWAIT ownership of Qaruh and Umm al Maradim islands is disputed by Saudi Arabia. IRAN occupies two islands in the Persian Gulf claimed by the United Arab Emirates: Lesser Tunb (called Tunb as Sughra in Arabic by UAE and Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Kuchek in Persian by Iran) and Greater Tunb (called Tunb al Kubra in Arabic by UAE
and Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Bozorg in Persian by Iran); it jointly administers with the UAE an island in the Persian Gulf claimed by the UAE (called Abu Musa in Arabic by UAE and Jazireh-ye Abu Musa in Persian by Iran)-over which Iran has taken steps to exert unilateral control since 1992, including access restrictions and a military build-up on the island; the UAE has garnered significant diplomatic support in the region in protesting these Iranian actions.

IRAN and IRAQ, after their eight-year war, restored diplomatic relations in 1990 but are still to settle disputes concerning border demarcation, freedom of navigation and sovereignty over the Shatt al Arab waterway. (IRAQ also disputes over water development plans by Turkey for the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.)

BELIZE | GUATEMALA

International border dispute between BELIZE and GUATEMALA.

BOLIVIA | CHILE

BOLIVIA has wanted a sovereign corridor to the South Pacific Ocean since the Atacama area was lost to CHILE in 1884. There also is a dispute over Rio Lauca water rights. (Chile has territorial claim in Antarctica, the Chilean Antarctic Territory, which partially overlaps Argentine and British claims.)

BRAZIL | URUGUAY

Two sections of boundary of BRAZIL with URUGUAY are in dispute – Arroio Invernada (Arroyo de la Invernada) area
of the Rio Quarai (Rio Cuareim) and the islands at the confluence of the Rio Quarai and the Uruguay River.

British Indian Ocean Territory

BRITISH INDIAN OCEAN TERRITORY: the island of Diego Garcia is claimed by Mauritius; and the Chagos Archipelago
is claimed by Seychelles.

COMOROS | FRANCE | MADAGASCAR

COMOROS claims French-administered Mayotte Island. Madagascar claims the GLORIOSO ISLANDS (France).

CHINA | TAIWAN | RUSSIA | NORTH KOREA | VIETNAM | JAPAN

CHINA considers TAIWAN as a renegade province. Chinese Nationalists retreated to the island in 1949 after losing to the Communists in a mainland civil war. CHINA also disputes two sections of the boundary with RUSSIA, a 33-km section of boundary with NORTH KOREA in the Paektu-san (mountain) area, and a maritime boundary with VIETNAM in the Gulf of Tonkin. Paracel Islands is occupied by China, but claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. China claims the Japanese-administered Senkaku-shoto (Senkaku Islands/Diaoyu Tai), as does Taiwan.

NICARAGUA | COLOMBIA | VENEZUELA

NICARAGUA and COLOMBIA are disputing the Archipelago de San Andres y Providencia and Quita Sueno Bank. VENEZUELA also has maritime boundary dispute with COLOMBIA in the Gulf of Venezuela, and claims all of Guyana west of the Essequibo River.

CYPRUS | GREECE | TURKEY

CYPRUS:1974 hostilities divided the island into two de facto autonomous areas, a Greek Cypriot area controlled by the internationally recognized Cypriot Government (59% of the island’s land area) and a Turkish-Cypriot area (37% of the island), that are separated by a UN buffer zone (4% of the island); there are two UK sovereign base areas within the Greek Cypriot portion of the island. Turkey and Greece also have complex maritime, air and territorial disputes in the Aegean Sea.

INDONESIA | MALAYSIA | SINGAPORE

INDONESIA is in dispute over two islands with MALAYSIA, who is in dispute with SINGAPORE over two other islands.

ECUADOR | PERU

ECUADOR and PERU dispute three sections of the boundary. On a number of occasions it has led to military conflict.

ESTONIA | RUSSIA | LATVIA | LITHUANIA

ESTONIA claims over 2,000 sq km territory in the Narva and Pechory regions of RUSSIA, based on boundary established under the 1920 Peace Treaty of Tartu. Based on the 1920 Treaty of Riga, LATVIA had claimed the Abrene/Pytalovo section of border ceded by the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic to Russia in 1944. There also are ongoing talks over a boundary dispute with LITHUANIA (primary concern is oil exploration rights).

ETHIOPIA | SOMALIA | ERITREA

ETHIOPIA and SOMALIA: territorial dispute over the Ogaden, and Ethiopian troops have crossed the border. Most of the southern half of the boundary with Somalia is a Provisional Administrative Line. ETHIOPIA and ERITREA disputed ownership of the triangle of land in Badme and although arbitration through The Hague brought a solution, the issue remains sensitive between the two countries.

UNITED KINGDOM | ARGENTINA

FALKLAND ISLANDS: Claims on the UK-administered islands (Islas Malvinas) by Argentina led to a military conflict in 1982. The dispute started in 1833. Read more about it at this site. Argentina also claims the UK-administered South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

GABON | EQUATORIAL GUINEA | NIGERIA

GABON and EQUATORIAL GUINEA are in disputes over a maritime boundary and the sovereignty over islands in Corisco Bay. EQUATORIAL GUINEA also is in dispute with NIGERIA over maritime boundaries and the jurisdiction over oil-rich areas in the Gulf of Guinea.

GIBRALTAR | UNITED KINGDOM | SPAIN

GIBRALTAR is a source of friction between SPAIN and the UK. Spain controls five places of sovereignty (plazas de soberania) on and off the coast of Morocco – the coastal enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, which Morocco contests, as well as the islands of Penon de Alhucemas, Penon de Velez de la Gomera, and Islas Chafarinas.

ISRAEL | SYRIA

The WEST BANK and GAZA STRIP are ISRAEL-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement. Israel occupies the GOLAN HEIGHTS (of SYRIA).

JAPAN | RUSSIA

JAPAN claims the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan, and the Habomai group occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945, now administered by RUSSIA.

SOUTH KOREA | JAPAN | CHINA | TAIWAN | VIETNAM

Liancourt Rocks (Takeshima/Tokdo), administered by SOUTH KOREA, is claimed by JAPAN. The Japanese-administered Senkaku-shoto (Senkaku Islands/Diaoyu Tai) is claimed by both CHINA and TAIWAN. The Paracel Islands are occupied by CHINA, but claimed by VIETNAM and TAIWAN.

INDIA | PAKISTAN

KASHMIR: territorial dispute between INDIA and PAKISTAN. KASHMIR is made up of many regions but is called “Jammu & Kashmir” being the two most populous regions in the state, other regions being Ladakh, Gilgit, Baltistan and Skardu. PAKISTAN grabbed many of these regions in 1947 (some parts were taken by China). The largest portion of the original state of Jammu & Kashmir remains as a state within INDIA. INDIA and PAKISTAN also have water-sharing problems over the Indus River (Wular Barrage), and INDIA has a boundary dispute with China. Read the Story behind the Story of KASHMIR.

KOSOVO

KOSOVO: Ethnic Albanianians number 1.5 million against 100,000 (mostly Christian) Serbians, who claim Kosovo as a province. Kosovo declared independence on 17 February 2008 but is yet to be recognized by all nations. The story behind the story of Kosovo.

MOLDAVIA | UKRAINE | ROMANIA

Certain territories of MOLDAVIA and UKRAINE – including Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina – are considered by Bucharest as historically a part of ROMANIA; this territory was incorporated into the former Soviet Union following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1940. ROMANIA is also in disputes with UKRAINE over the continental shelf of the Black Sea under which significant gas and oil deposits may exist; they agreed in 1997 to two-year negotiating period, after which either party can refer dispute to the International Court of Justice.

KYRGYZSTAN | TAJIKISTAN | CHINA

KYRGYZSTAN is in territorial dispute with TAJIKISTAN on the boundary in Isfara Valley area. TAJIKISTAN also disputes most of the boundary with CHINA.

UNITED KINGDOM | NORTHERN IRELAND

NORTHERN IRELAND: The 12th century saw the first involvement by England in Irish affairs when the Earl of Pembroke, known as Strongbow, intervenes in a local dispute in Leinster in 1170. King Henry II lands the following year. In the 16th century, first Henry VIII and then Elizabeth I take an increasing interest in Ireland. Colonisation increases, sparking off several rebellions late in the century. The first Northern Ireland Parliament opens in 1921, and Ireland (making up the southern parts of the island) becomes a full republic in 1949. The British government gives new constitutional guarantees to the Northern Ireland Parliament at Stormont, but the conflict with the Irish Republican Army continues. During the Easter of 1999, Ulster Unionists and the IRA signed the Good Friday Agreement and in November they reached a constitutional agreement. However, after centuries Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom.

Kit Thornton contributes as follows: “Unionists and Nationalists both   acknowledge that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom… All four countries within the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) all have their own flags, symbols and even their own forms of the pound sterling. For example, if you look at the Welsh pound coin, it has a Leek on it, the national flower of Wales. Scotland has the Thistle on theirs, England has the rose. You can get Northern Irish bank sterling bank notes, english sterling bank notes and Scottish sterling bank notes. Some shops in England won’t take Northern Irish bank notes because they look so different. Northern Ireland definitely is not part of England, it is part of the United Kingdom.”

CHINA | MALAYSIA | PHILIPPINES | TAIWAN | VIETNAM | BRUNEI

SPRATLEY ISLANDS: a complex dispute between CHINA, MALAYSIA, PHILIPPINES, TAIWAN and VIETNAM. In 1984, BRUNEI established an exclusive fishing zone that encompasses Louisa Reef in the southern Spratly Islands, but has not publicly claimed the island.

PHILIPPINES claims the MALAYSIAN state of Sabah.

VIETNAM is in dispute with CAMBODIA over offshore islands and sections of their boundary.

SUDAN | EGYPT

SUDAN and EGYPT dispute an international boundary, creating the “Hala’ib Triangle,” a barren area of 20,580 sq km.

USA | CUBA

CUBA disputes the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, leased to the US and only mutual agreement or US abandonment
of the area can terminate the lease.

Theaters of conflict around the world

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